Whilst there is documentary evidence that Cardiff Schools played rugby in the 1880's, the first meeting of the present Union of Schools, as recorded in the Minute Book, was on Friday,December 5th, 1902, in the Queen's Hotel, Mr. W. D. Phillips of the CardiffClub presided. At this meeting, Dr. T. Wallace was elected President, Mr. A. W.Swash became Chairman, and the Hon. Secretaries were Mr. W. A. Brown and Mr.Sam Auckland. On this first committee were Mr. W. J. Old, later President of the Union, and the famous Mr. R. T. Gabe. The first schools forming the Union were:
Division 1 - Adamstown, CourtRoad, Crwys Road, St. David's, Grange, Wood St., Roath Park and Virgil St.
Division 2 - Metal St.,Tredegarville, St. John's, Eleanor St., South Church, St. Peter's, St.Patrick's and Mountstuart Square.
Division 3 - St. Monica's, St.Mary's (Canton), St. Mary's (Bute Tce.),St. Paul's, St. Alban's, St. Cuthbert's and Ely.
Only St. Alban's and St. Peter's have maintained this tradition unbroken since 1902. The Cardiff R.F.C. gave full support, issuing complimentary tickets and allowing Cardiff Boys to play on the Arms Park everySaturday morning. The first inter-town match was versus Pontypridd, away, onMarch 21st, 1903, and the first home match versus Swansea a week later. Price sof admission were: Stand - 9d (4p), Field - 2d (1p), boys half price. Tea at Maskells Restaurant cost 6d (2p) per head. Cardiff S.R.U. took an active part in the formation of the W.S.R.U. in 1903. The first Chairman was Mr. Swash (St.Monica's) and the Secretary Mr. Brown (Court Rd. School). The Cardiff Club made a grant of £50 and also presented medals. Grants of 30s (£1.50) were made to schools in order to purchase jerseys, shorts and boots. In 1905 the WesternMail South Wales News made a present of a shield valued at £50. This shield was refurbished in 1987 following bomb damage sustained during the Second WorldWar. It is currently valued for insurance purposes at £12,000.
Matches were played againstNewport, Neath and Llanelli and in 1905 the first Rugby Union sports were held.In 1906 the St. David's Shield was presented by the Catholic Young Men'sSociety. In this season an Old Boys' Union was instigated, with over fifteen teams divided into two sections , 14-16 and 16-18 year olds. Whitchurch, Cogan,Victoria and Hawthorn Schools joined the Schools Union. Up until to 1913,records show the great work that went into sports organisation and the continual financial struggle. There were frequent protests against referees,touch judges, crowds and even owners of fields where matches were played.Between the wars, rugby football continued to develop strongly in Cardiff schools, particularly when High Schools chose it as a major winter sport.
The years since 1945 have seen still greater changes. The Cardiff Boys' team play upwards of 20 inter-district matches per season. Tours were made to Ireland, North Wales, Lancashire,Yorkshire and Scotland. In 1957 the Cardiff and District Schools R.U., for the first time in the history of the W.S.R.U., entertained two teams fromFrankfurt, and in September 1958 two Cardiff boys' teams visited Frankfurt andHeidelberg. Return visits were made in 1960 and 1961. In 1973, Cardiff schools once more made history when they entertained and visited the Avia club ofBrussels. The remarkable part of this venture was that the games played inCardiff and Brussels were between town teams at 3 age levels - under 15, under13 and under 11. The Tournoi Tom Morris initiated at this time was won byCardiff Schools' and was successfully defended annually up to 1981, after this time Cardiff's fortunes in the tournament have been more mixed, and unfortunately due to age variations on the continent, we ceased playing in the tournament in 1997. The 75th Anniversary season 1977-78 saw a more ambitious and prolonged tour by way of celebration. From Brussels the party made its way to Paris, where several matches were played.
By the end of 1975, with the change in structure of Schoolboy Rugby in Wales imminent, it was decided by both the Under 15 and Under 11 Groups that they should become a separate bodies. The 1980's saw more new ground covered when the under 15's made two successful tours to Ireland being hosted by the famous Garryowen club ofLimerick. In season 1983-84 the C.S.R.U. toured Scotland, playing matches against the Border schools and East Lothian. This venture was repeated in1984-85 and again Cardiff boys were victorious, playing Preston Grasshoppers on the way home. In 1988, Cardiff under 15's were invited to represent the LordMayor of Cardiff in the Challenge Le Cointre played in Cardiff's twin town, Nantes.In 1992 C.S.R.U. and S.N.U.C. were formally twinned. In May 1993 S.N.U.C. made its first visit to Cardiff with four teams. In season 1989-90, a successful tour was made by the under 15's to Italy and in 1990-91, to Canada; the first time that a Cardiff boys' team had travelled to the North American continent.This was repeated in the1992-1993 season when the boys travelled to the western seaboard of Canada to visit Vancouver, and Seattle in the U.S.A.
The 1997-98 season saw theCardiff Schools Under 15 team play two County teams, Cheshire and Lancashire,whilst on tour in the north of England. This tour has now become an item during the February half term with Yorkshire replacing Cheshire and Coventry being added to the itinerary. At Easter 2000, we embarked on an ambitious tour toIreland, for the first time playing three specially assembled provincial XVs.The rugby was hard but the welcome, as you would expect, typically Irish. In all these tours, the Cardiff boys have proved themselves to be worthy ambassadors of the Capitol of Wales, and in the process have gained many friends both on and off the field.
With the re-organisation of schools and the raising of the school leaving age to 16 in the early 70’s,domestic leagues were introduced at Under 16, 15, 14, 13 and 12 levels.Twenty-three secondary schools are affiliated to the Cardiff Schools' RugbyUnion Intermediate Group, offering some 100 teams at various age groups the opportunity of playing competitive rugby. This is in addition to games played within individual schools.
The town team (under 15) has a tall times reflected the high standards of rugby played in the schools, and in the national inter-district competition for the Dewar Shield it has made a record number of appearances in the final, 33 in all, being successful on 22occasions. Since 1904, two hundred and thirty three Cardiff boys have represented Wales at full schoolboy (Under 14, 15 or 16) international or ‘A’schoolboy level. In 1992-93, following the move of international rugby to under16, Andrew Grabham (Glantaf) gained international honours for a third consecutive year. During the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons Corey Hearne (KingsMonkton) set a record of 57 appearances for the Town under 15 1st team, also going on to represent Welsh Schools Under 16’s.
Season 1971-72 will stand out asa memorable one. The town team was invincible, winning 26 out of its 27 matches and drawing the other. It won the Dewar Shield for the 13th time and the WelshSchools' seven-a-side tournament for the 3rd time. It amassed 887 points with only 97 against. Steven O'Donaghue (Llanrumney H.S.) set an individual points scoring record of 254 points, which has not been surpassed. In this particular team was a certain scrum half by the name of Terry Holmes, who was to go on and play for Wales and the British Lions later in his career. The try scoring record of 32 tries in one season set by Matthew Williams (Ysgol Glantaf) in1992-93 was surpassed in season 1997-98 by Martin John (St. Illtyds) with 33tries. In the same season the Cardiff Boys team set a new points scoring record of 1,087, whilst in the process of also winning the Dewar Shield for the nineteenth time.
In 1982-83 Cardiff won the Morgan Griffiths Trophy for the first time and repeated this achievement the following season. In 1988 CorpusChristi H.S. became the first winners of the W.S.R.U. National Under 16 Cup competition. In 1992 Ysgol Glantaf won the W.S.R.U. National Under 14 Cup competition. In 1995, South Glamorgan Schools' Under 15's won the Welsh SchoolsCounty Championship for the first time in its’ history. Fourteen Cardiff boys represented South Glamorgan in the final.In season 1969-70, Mr. V. C.Phelps became President of the Welsh Rugby Union. 'Viv' first became an officer of the Cardiff Schools' in 1935 and continued in the Office of Hon. Secretary until 1955, and was Chairman of the Union in 1957-58. In 1951, he was elected to the Office of Hon. Secretary to the Welsh Schools' Rugby Union, a post he held until 1973. At the end of season 1980-81, G. J. Donovan was elected Hon.Secretary to the Welsh Schools' Rugby Union. Consequently, he resigned as Hon.Secretary to the Cardiff Schools' Rugby Union, a post which he had held for 15years, following on from 4 years as Treasurer. He had also been Chairman twice,in 1965-66 and in our 75th Anniversary season (1977-78). Sadly, in 1991,'Gerry' died following a short illness. To many he personified Cardiff Schools'Rugby Union, and all those who knew him, boys, teachers and parents, are most appreciative of his efforts on their behalf.
In 1996 Reg Knight, the SouthWales Echo Schools Rugby correspondent passed away following a long illness.Reg was a great friend to Cardiff Schools, and his articles in the Echo andWestern Mail were always eagerly read by teachers and players alike. From1991until 1994, Martin Truran, formerly of Howardian High School, held the position of Assistant Secretary to the WSRU Intermediate Group. Martin was a former Chairman of Cardiff Schools during the 1975-76 season, and also a selector for the international Under 15/16 team during the 1980’s and early1990’s. He was also instrumental in setting up the ‘200 Club’ in the 1970’s,which has proved to be such an essential source of finance for the running ofthis Union. In 2004 he was elected Treasurer of the W..S.R.U. Under 16 Group, a position he held until 2005. During the 1989-90 season RogerGoode (Cantonian) and John Griffiths (Willows) were appointed senior and assistant coaches, respectively, to the Welsh Schools Under 16 internationalXV; thus bestowing on Cardiff Schools the unique honour of having both national coaches. Suddenly, and tragically, John Griffiths died in May 1995, thus depriving Cardiff and Welsh Schools of a great talent. Beyond his coaching,'Shwn', as he was affectionately nicknamed, also possessed a great sense of humanity and selflessness which marked him out as a truly outstanding individual. His memory will live forever in the hearts of all the boys he coached in the Cardiff, South Glamorgan and Welsh schools teams.
During the1991-92 season Roger Goode was elected as a selector to the Welsh Schools Under16 team, thus achieving the dual distinction of being an international coach and selector. Roger's contribution to Cardiff Schools, South Glamorgan Schools and Welsh Schools has been quite immense and schoolboy rugby owes him a great debt of gratitude. In 1998, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to schools sport, Roger was chosen as the Welsh Sports Council Junior Coach of theYear. Disappointingly Roger failed to be re-elected as coach to the WSRU Under16 team at the end of the 1999-2000 season, thus bringing to an end an envious international record of having played twenty six, won twenty two, drawn one and losing only three matches. Fittingly because of the high regard that everyone had for Roger and because of the major contribution he has made to schoolboy rugby within the city, he was elected Chairman of this Union in our CentenarySeason. To show the esteem in which Roger is held by the rugby fraternity within the schools of our city, Roger was elected to the position of President of the Cardiff Schools Rugby Union in 2006. In January 2003 Peter Cronin (Fitzalan), who had made an immense contribution to the development of schoolboy rugby within the city, sadly died. He was a former chairman in seasons 1969-70 and 1973-74, and was elected President in 1989, a position he held until ill health forced him to stand down in 2000. He will always be remembered by past teachers, players and parents during his years of involvement for his total commitment, loyalty and enthusiasm, which is the embodiment of all that is good in schoolboy rugby.
In 1985 the Cardiff R.F.C.presented a trophy in memory of Mr. Hubert Johnson, to be awarded to the outstanding player in terms of character and commitment. The first recipient was Matthew Lloyd of Lady Mary High School. In 2002 British Telecom presented this Union with a trophy to be awarded to the outstanding ‘B’ team Under 15squad player in terms of character and commitment. Due to work and family commitments, Phil Davies (Fitzalan) had to stand down in 1996 as Secretary of this Union. Phil took up this position in 1981 and we thank him most sincerely for all his efforts on our behalf. In 2000 Cyril Evans was elected as ourPresident, a position he held until 2006. Cyril will always be regarded with great affection due to the great humility and friendliness he shows to everyone he meets. Easter, 1999, saw the Town Under15 team taking part in the International Festival of Youth Rugby Tournament held in and around Edinburgh, Scotland. The final was played on the hallowed turf of Murrayfield, and a very fine victory was achieved against WorcesterRFC. The whole venture was a resounding success and something that we as aUnion would dearly wish to repeat if the opportunity arose again in the future.In 2000 a Cup was presented to Cardiff Schools, to be played for by the Under12’s, in honour of John Nelson, the then Cardiff RFC secretary, who tragically passed away earlier in that year. John was a true gentleman and a great supporter of schools rugby within the city.
Season 2001-02 saw Les Good becomeChairman of the Welsh Schools Rugby Union Intermediate Group. Les is a tireless worker for schoolboy rugby and it is fitting that he should have held this prestigious office in Cardiff School’s centenary season, since the very firstChairman of the WSRU, Mr. A. Swash, was also from this Union. Les was also instrumental in setting up the Cardiff Schools Under 15 ‘B’ team, which performed outstandingly in its first season (2001-02) to reach the semi finals of the Dewar Shield. Due to family commitments, Les had to stand down asTreasurer of this Union in 2003, a position he held with distinction since1995. It was a great privilege for the Cardiff Schools Union when Les Good was elected as Treasurer of the Welsh Schools Rugby Union in 2009.
The 2002-03 season witnessed theCentenary of Cardiff Schools Rugby Union. To mark this splendid occasion several events were organised; a Dinner in the City Hall on the 6th December at which over 400 guests, former players and teachers attended; two matches againstWelsh Schools President XV’s in May; and finally a two week Centenary tour toSouth Africa in July which saw nine matches played by the Cardiff Schools ‘A’and ‘B’ teams in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. This tour has now become a permanent end to the season and has been repeated annually. Sadly and tragically during the2005 Easter holidays, Selwyn Wyatt passed away whilst in the south of France. Selwyn had held many posts in the Welsh Schools Senior Group and was an inspiration to many generations of young rugby players both in Cardiff and in other parts of the Principality. Selwyn also coached the Town Under 15’s in the mid 1990’s. His funeral in Llandaff Cathedral was an outstanding tribute to a man who was held in such high regard and affection by colleagues, friends and former pupils alike. To perpetuate his memory the Old Boys/ Girls Association of Howardian High School donated a cup, which was presented to the winners of the Under 14 competition by his widow, Jeanette, at the annual PresentationEvening in 2005.
At the end of the 2004-05 season Carl French stood down as secretary, a position he had held since 1996. (*Added by our President, RogerGoode) *Carl became secretary after a difficult period in the life of the Union and his vision and stewardship were instrumental in putting Cardiff Schools back on track. He also organised several Cardiff Schools Golf Day at Llanishen Golf Club which raised much needed funds for the Union and his tireless organisation of all the rugby within Cardiff schools is an example for all to follow. To mark his contribution to the Union the officers presented him with an inscribed plaque and he was also made a life member.At the end of the 2007–08 season, Dai Rees stood down as Secretary and Treasurer. Dai’s contribution to theCardiff Schools Union can not be overstated and his Herculean efforts in managing the two posts must be thoroughly applauded. Dai is a very humble individual,whose quiet and unassuming demeanour concealed the huge amount of effort he put into the administrative running of the Union. All the teachers involved in rugby owe him a great debt. Neil Hennessy was elected Chairman / Secretary for the 2008 / 09 season and his energy and vision has brought the Union very much in to the 21st century. Added to Neil’s unsurpassed organisational and coaching skills is his affinity with the local Referees Association which has considerably eased the constant pressure of finding suitably qualified match officials for the increasing number of domestic and inter district matches.Neil stood down as Chairman at the end of the 2009 / 10 season. It is a very long time since the inaugural meeting of the Cardiff Schools' Rugby Union took place in December1902. Those 20 gentlemen inspired the boys to play the game the "CardiffWay". They started a tradition in which memories live and their policies endure. We, both masters and boys, who are now custodians of this tradition and heritage need to say "Diolch yn fawr iawn" and express our thanks by continuing to play the game of rugby in the spirit and enjoyment of our forebears all those years ago. C. French (August 2010)